Maurice Gusman heirs sue city of Miami to regain ownership of Olympia Theater

Lawsuit alleges Miami violated a covenant when the Miami Parking Authority relinquished oversight of the theater

TRD MIAMI /
Dec.December 24, 2019 10:30 AM
Olympia Theater (Credit: Getty Images)

Olympia Theater (Credit: Getty Images)

The city of Miami’s ownership of the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami is facing a legal challenge by the heirs of Maurice Gusman, the late philanthropist who deeded the historic property to the city 44 years ago.

In a civil lawsuit filed last month in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, a defunct non-profit entity known as The Maurice Gusman Center for the Performing Arts Inc. alleges the city violated a covenant requiring the Miami Parking Authority to oversee and manage the historic 1926 property at 174 East Flagler Street. According to the complaint, the dissolved corporation’s directors are Maurice Gusman’s grandchildren Bruce Gusman, Robert Gusman and Jackie Gusman Thayer.

The Gusmans are suing the city as uncertainty swirls around the 1,567-seat Olympia Theater’s future. Miami Dade College recently declined to pursue a management agreement with the city, after Miami city commissioners rejected an unsolicited redevelopment proposal to convert the apartment portion of the property into a hotel.

Timothy Barket, the Gusman entity’s attorney, and a city spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Famed architect John Eberson designed the Olympia in his atmospheric movie theater style. The theater also included an office building in the rear of the performance venue. In the 1970s, another famous architect of Miami buildings, Morris Lapidus, renovated the Olympia’s main auditorium for Maurice Gusman, who bought the property to preserve it. The theater was also converted into the home of the Miami Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1975, the Gusman Center nonprofit deeded the Olympia to the city on the condition it be operated by the Miami Parking Authority, the lawsuit states. According to the complaint, Maurice Gusman believed the parking authority “would be better suited and well qualified to manage the property in a manner which would preserve the legacy for the property which he sought to maintain for generations to come.” Gusman died in 1980.

In August 2011, the city violated the covenant when the parking authority relinquished its control of the theater, the lawsuit alleges.

Over the years, Miami-Dade County, the Bayfront Park Trust and the Related Group had offered proposals to renovate the theater and repurpose the commercial part of the property. But those efforts never materialized.

In July, the city commission said no to an unsolicited bid from New Urban International, a real estate asset management company that wanted to manage the theater and transform the commercial portion into a hotel. The city is looking at a $20 million renovation job to repair the theater, according to an analysis by architect Richard Heisenbottle.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Lennox Miami Beach

Lennox Miami Beach hotel exec sues father-in-law for ousting him: lawsuit

Lennox Miami Beach hotel exec sues father-in-law for ousting him: lawsuit
Hard Rock Cafe at Bayside Marketplace (Hard Rock)

Bayside Marketplace sues to evict Bubba Gump, Hard Rock Cafe and three other tenants

Bayside Marketplace sues to evict Bubba Gump, Hard Rock Cafe and three other tenants
A few of the properties in Palm Beach County (Credit: Google Maps)

Feds seek to seize 11 properties in Palm Beach County allegedly tied to money laundering

Feds seek to seize 11 properties in Palm Beach County allegedly tied to money laundering
Bay Harbor One

Bay Harbor One buyer sues to get out of condo deal, citing alleged defects

Bay Harbor One buyer sues to get out of condo deal, citing alleged defects
Gil Dezer with a rendering of Porsche Design Tower and Residences by Armani/Casa (Credit: ARX via Madison Global)

Miami judge will rule if ex-Dezer COO is entitled to more than $10M in profits

Miami judge will rule if ex-Dezer COO is entitled to more than $10M in profits
Diane Von Furstenberg, Brookfield Properties Bruce Flatt, and the DVF store in the Shops at Merrick Park (Getty, Google Maps)

Brookfield seeks to evict Diane Von Furstenberg at Merrick Park

Brookfield seeks to evict Diane Von Furstenberg at Merrick Park
1 Hotel South Beach (Credit: Google Maps)

Starwood Capital affiliate sues 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach condo association for trademark infringement

Starwood Capital affiliate sues 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach condo association for trademark infringement
David Martin, Rene Gonzalez and Glass 120 Ocean Drive (RGA, Google Maps)

Glass condo owners in South Beach sue Terra, architect and contractors, alleging construction defects

Glass condo owners in South Beach sue Terra, architect and contractors, alleging construction defects
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...